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Design for your market – not you!!!


It’s a very common mistake to make and it’s difficult to get away from. It’s a battle I undertake weekly with clients, but once the penny has dropped and you truly see the logic you start thinking in a different way which changes your whole marketing strategy.

Design for your market… not for you!

I recently had a client who couldn’t decide which avenue to take for the re-design of their logo. To put it very simply (although this logo re-design was far from simple) should the logo obviously demonstrate what the company does or should it be more subtle? There were excellent arguments for both, but the client was adamant that her idea for a subtle, understated logo was the way forward (at the expense of loosing the message) and dismissed all evidence that a more meaningful logo design may be more beneficial. Luckily the team contained of a very ‘clued up’ marketing consultant who suggested a survey to ask the customers what they wanted.

After a couple of months of Facebook, newsletter and Twitter campaigns the results were in. A more obvious, meaningful logo it was, with very little argument. Of course you could hear mild protesting from the top, but you can’t argue with your market, the design isn’t for you – it’s for them.

It’s a scenario you see all the time on the BBC programme ‘The Apprentice’, one group meets with a focus group to get some market research and when the focus group do not like their ideas the ‘wanna be’ apprentices undermine the group – usually to the tune of ‘there were only 14 people in the group’, ‘they were a little too old’ and ‘they don’t know what they want’. The contestants ignore any advice from their target market and consequently loose the task.

Please, when you sit down to write a brief for your new website, brochure or logo design, sit back and put yourself in your customers shoes and ask yourself “what would appeal to them?”. It’s great that you live in a pink house with pink walls, pink carpet and matching pink furniture but would a pink logo appeal to your markets? Does it say what you want it to say about your business?

You must always put your markets first and your personal feelings second. And as I mentioned, if you’re not sure… ask them, don’t guess.

I repeat – design for your markets, not for you!

Posted by Lu

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Posted on Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 at 10:20 am
Posted In Branding, Freelancing, Graphic Design | Tags: , ,

2 Responses to “Design for your market – not you!!!”

  • Tim Burley says:

    Hi :)

    2 points here = 1 I support wholeheartedly and 1 that makes me a little bit grumpy…

    1. Consider the user in all that you do – Yay!
    Gather valuable insights into their beliefs, behaviours, attitudes and desires, and use them to inform your strategy.

    2 Ask your clients’ customers to choose their preferred design – Boo!
    ‘Straw polls’ deliver mediocre work, as a large number of respondents will invariably select the safe middle ground (a ‘bell curve’ distribution). Is it any wonder they choose the “meaningful” one? They feel good about it because they ‘get’ it. But does that make it right?

    (Luckily I only stayed grumpy for a second or two, thanks to the preposterously cute puppy photos on the right of this comment box! :o)

  • Lu says:

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Point 1 – Glad you agree!

    Point 2 – I also agree whole heartedly, the mass will always choose the obvious choice, and the research conducted was a little more in depth than “What is your favourite design a or b?” but I wanted to keep the point of this post simple and not get into the intricacies of the research campaign. A lot of business owners wouldn’t go as far as to consider their markets they would simply choose a design that appealed to them.

    Glad you cheered up – Murray has that effect on people!


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